Welsh amateur boxing is in a funding crisis

Welsh amateur boxing is in a funding crisis

Independent auditors from KTS Owens Thomas said that the Welsh Amateur Boxing Association (WABA) was ‘unfit for purpose’ and does not qualify to receive public money way back in 2013.

The auditors revealed that they couldn’t rule out fraud. There were no receipts or documenting evidence for over 30% of all spending by WABA and cash was often used for large transactions.

This should have been the final warning to the people in power and they should have recognised that big changes in the governance of amateur boxing were needed. However, there was little acceptance, even less accountability and no apologies given.

In the following months and years, members who had spent decades volunteering with young amateur boxers were banned from involvement in boxing because they dared to do what’s right and speak out against the unprofessional way the sport was run.

Then in 2014, WABA failed to field a full squad for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow despite having several boxers capable and willing to compete. That should have been another major wakeup call.

Three years later, Sport Wales have now revealed that they “did not feel in a position to consider a future funding application for 2017/18.” Effectively, no lessons have been learned and Welsh Boxing, as WABA is now known, is still not a properly run organisation.

Alasdair McIntyre, the Interim Chief Operating Officer, has penned a letter to all current Members to inform them that WABA hasn’t met “a number of significant conditions.” The letter also hints that “clear expectations on how National Governing Bodies behave to help ensure robust and transparent organizational governance” also haven’t been met.

One of the Welsh Government and Sport Wales “expectations is that the current Board stands down, calls an EGM and a new skill based Board from within Welsh boxing is appointed to take the sport forward.” It continues: “The Chair and all Board Members have indicated that they will be standing down.”

This will drastically affect the Welsh boxers who are aiming to compete at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. Next year’s event will have been a lifelong dream for many youngsters who have watched their predecessors win medals and the Board’s incompetence has cost them dearly.

It could also affect those boxers taking part in this year’s Welsh Championships, which are due to conclude on Friday 7 April – which comes at the start of the financial year when there will be no funding for amateur boxing. It’s unknown whether it was covered in last year’s budget.

The boxers and their coaches are blameless and have done nothing wrong but they will be the ones who suffer. For the future of Welsh amateur boxing, there needs to be drastic change in the governance.

It’s not Welsh Government’s or Sport Wales’ fault – it’s the WABA Board’s fault and they owe an overdue apology to our boxers, who deserve much better.

Wales has always punched above its weight in the world of boxing. Many dissatisfied Members have stayed silent in the past for fear of a reaction that they will be banned and excluded from our wonderful sport. That can’t happen anymore or Wales will eventually have no presence in amateur boxing.

If you’re a member, please read what Alasdair McIntrye has written, attend the EGM when it’s arranged and go to your Divisional Meetings. A new Board is needed and this is the first step of change for the better.

The full letter from Alasdair McIntyre is below.

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